Monday, August 31, 2009

One more time...

... of escaping the scorching heat of Phoenix, even if just for the day!  We took a little trip to Flag with the Swopes again, and this time managed NOT to get drenched!  ;o) 

First stop was Lockett Meadow, now I hadn't been here in ages - but I don't remember it taking quite so long to get to the meadow/pump-house at the top.  Maybe it was our children who dawdled, asked to be carried, and stopped to rest every five minutes.  Maybe.

Lauren loved stopping and listening to the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves.  It might have been just another excuse to stop walking, but she was too cute to argue with about it. 

Harper was all set to head off on an adventure all his own!

Paige spent the time being schooled in the art of eating sunflower seeds by Daddy.  She would actually chew on them for a while and then spit it all out on the ground.  Not much nutritional value there, but it kept her happy and busy!

Look, all four of the kiddos!  It is a miracle that they were all looking at the camera at the same time.  I love Porter's "cheese" face!!!

We stopped and had a few rounds of pinecone baseball.  LOL!  Porter was hitting them very well.  Lauren was content to just run around with a stick.

Wow - this one has such happy eyes for Daddy!  Amazing, but Paige's babyness is nearly gone.  She is starting to look like such a little girl!

This spot was the end of our journey as hikers returning down the trail told us we had another mile or so to go.   Lunch sounded much better, so we hightailed it for the cars and headed to Beaver Street Brewery.

 After our lunch we went to the Flagstaff Arboretum to soak up a little more sunshine.

The pond was pretty fascinating...

Little Harper is so adorable right now, I just want to hug him looking at this picture!  Both the little ones were surprisingly happy to hang in the strollers during this excursion.  I think the hike must have worn them out!  They didn't nap though... not a wink!

Lauren racing through the sunflower maze.

Stopping to smell a flower - or eat it - or crawl inside it... I'm not sure.  =)

Aren't they cute?

And funny?!?

I love them.

It was a long and eventful day, and totally worth the drive!  As soon as we arrived home and stepped out of the car into 102 degrees, I was so glad we had gone!  Even if it meant Paige looked like a zombie for the next two days from not napping!

Thanks for coming along, Swope family!  You made our trip all the more fun!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daddy day

We were able to spend the morning with Daddy on Tuesday, which after five days away was a welcome activity!!! We just headed to the park first thing in the morning to try and avoid the heat.

Paige is just getting so brave and ready to try anything on the playground. I am pretty sure she was ready to run down the slide here. Who needs to slide safely on their bottom?

This picture scares the daylights out of me. It is like flashing forward to 2020 and she is fifteen. Ugh.

Did you see that her fingers are crossed? So whatever she was telling me as I snapped this... total fabrication, I am sure!

This is the kind of picture I get of Paige lately. She hates the big black box attached to Mommy's face. I imagine she is wondering why Daddy is smiling at it.

She was all too happy once she spied the ducks, though!

And she is still just content to sit on the sidelines of the splash pad. Watching.

Outside, water, and Daddy? Sounds like a perfect day for Lauren. Never mind that we ended the day with Chik-fil-A!

I don't even know what "little" is doing here, but I love it. It makes me smile!

Happy Friday-eve everyone!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A little whiney

1.  Today was kind of a lonely day for me, starting to feel the effects of day #4 without Justin.  It amazes me how my house can be so noisy and yet feel so empty at the same time!   Then I packed up the girls after naptime and headed to Jaclyn's house ~ we have been able to see each other three times in three days, and since misery loves company it has been fabulous to hang out with her.  We roll our eyes at our children, complain about our husbands' hobby requiring time away, and then just laugh together about it.  Suddenly my day wasn't lonely any more!
2.  The speed cameras in Phoenix annoy me.  Not just because you can't speed, but because people freak out when they see them.  Do you really think you need to go 55 on I-10?!?  It is like all of a sudden people forget what the speed limit is and start driving 10 mph slower than it!  I think you can go seven over without it flashing you, so just go the speed limit peeps!  And, if you truly don't know what the speed limit is, I don't think you should be driving.  Pay attention!  Argh!
3.  Jaclyn mentioned on her blog a Matthew West song that has been speaking to her.  I love that song, and I thought I would share the one that has been speaking to me, Natalie Grant - Perfect People (but only part of the lyrics):

there's no such thing as perfect people
there's no such thing as a perfect life
so come as you are, broken and scarred
lift up your heart and be amazed, 

and be changed
by a perfect god

Suddenly its like a weight is lifted
when you hear the words that you are loved
he knows where you are
and were you've been
and you never have to go there again

Who lived, and died, to give you life
to heal our inperfections
so look up, and see love, and let grace be enough

This song is so me right now - trying to let go of all the things the world tries to tell me are important.  Love it.

4.  There are many things I have found I don't do when Justin is gone: wear makeup (only mascara for three days!), put my purse away, cook full meals - instead of three or four items we have been having one... two if you count popsicles, make the bed, remember when the trash day is, go to bed on time or sleep well once I am in bed.
5.  Things I have found I only do when Justin is gone: have Daisy sleep in the bed with me, watch movies every night, double check that every door in the house is locked, sit quietly and do nothing, sleep with my phone on the bed next to me... just in case.
Ugh, now I hear the occasional chirp of a smoke detector.  I wonder which one it is.  Hopefully not in the girls' rooms!!!  That should be fun to figure out and replace at 10PM.  Definitely something that would fall onto my "honey-do" list. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

It just seems crazy... be thinking about baby Beeler #3 already, but the time has arrived.  I told Jaclyn tonight that Paige is wearing clothes that Lauren was wearing when I was pregnant last time, so that was a big wake-up call to me that the time was drawing very near!  **Disclaimer** I am not pregnant yet - but we are hoping to be so in the fall or winter.***  Just wanted to clarify that before I got a million comments.  Ha!  Don't I wish?!?  ;o)

I don't feel ready to be pregnant again, but I feel ready for the baby.  Does that sound insane?  I have been blessed so far with fairly easy pregnancies- without severe morning sickness or complications.  But somehow I still dread the idea of being preggers.  Maybe it is because I have finally lost some weight and have begun to resemble my pre-pregnancy self.  Okay, maybe not - but I am a lot closer!!!  Maybe it is because I already feel worn out halfway through the day and I know that pregnancy takes it out of me.  Afternoon naps are a must.  Maybe it is because I started this business, and I feel like that is taking the energy of a baby already.  But, I look at newborns or pictures of my own when they were brand new, and I feel so ready to cuddle one of those peanuts again!

So - the deal is, Justin really wants a boy.  But we have discussed it at length, and we both want #3 regardless of what the gender is - to complete our family.  We have done much research on ways to encourage the conception of a boy, and let me tell you the science of it all makes sense.  But, I truly believe that God will give us what is best for our family.  That being said, I also believe God knows the desires of our hearts as well, and if we are seeking Him and loving Him - He wants to bless us.  All in all, we plan on doing the science to whatever extent we can and just pray that God will bless our efforts as we recognize that it is all in His hands and that we trust Him.

I have been charting basal body temperatures and "CM" (we won't go into those details) for months now, and the conclusion... really I am all over the place!  But, I think I can tell the necessary signs beforehand, so that is a step in the right direction.  Now we have to start throwing the ovulation test kits into the mix - mostly using them to confirm what we already know.  Like I said, this is a no-holes-barred effort.  We are pulling out all the stops.  Truly, all of them... I will be giving up coffee.  COFFEE.  Meh.

Today I felt crazy with all this.  Two kids, and I am charting, and checking, and reading, and re-reading, making lists of what foods to avoid, and now testing?!?  Why bring this hassle and stress into the equation?!?  Why not just let it be what it is?  Besides, the thought of having a boy freaks me out!   They are high energy, and loud, and boisterious, and physical.  What am I going to do with a boy?!?  I never had a brother, I don't know the first thing about the little boogers.

Then Jaclyn came over for dinner tonight and she said, "Because you love your husband." 

Why does she always have to go and do that?  Be right?!?  She is so right.  I love her. 

And when I think of the joy written all over Justin's face if we have a son, it makes all the detail work worth it.  And if it's not, you ask?  That's okay too, because like I said - we have put God in control and if He gives us a girl after all this effort, we will know that is what we were meant to have!  For sure.

But let me tell you all a little secret...

I want a boy too. 

Not just because Justin wants it, not just because we don't have one already, not just because it seems like I should want one.

Because I know that there is a bond between Mother and Son like no other.  Though I hope to be very close with all my daughters and share very special times with them, a woman impacts her son in ways she can never imagine.  I have seen it in my husband, I have seen it in friends, I saw it this last weekend when my Aunt Dona danced with her baby boy at his wedding.  Hugging him so close and just loving the man he has become.  I want to have that Mother-Son dance at a wedding some day, and know that I impacted a man who loves God and is starting his own family... and will hopefully impact many generations to follow.   It is a huge responsibility but also a great honor.

If I only I didn't have to be pregnant first.  LOL!

We will have to see what is in store... but in the meantime, you might want to avoid me after the first of September.  Uncaffinated Claire is NOT fun-Claire.  Not for at least a week.  Ugh!

Water play

In an effort to get out of the house some more yesterday (and avoid that long list I was talking about), we went to the Desert Ridge fountain since I had some returns to make at Marshalls.  This is always a hit activity, so I knew it would be a good choice!

I had packed a picnic lunch which was hardly touched due to longing stares toward the water.  I finally caved on eating and suited them up.  Paige was having fun as long as it was just the large streams of water coming out - but as soon as the "sprinkle" type went flying, she was outta there!  I need to remember to bring buckets and cups next time, there are always kids with those and Lauren sees them and asks if we have some.  You would think I would remember by now!

Even though the lighting is bad - I love this picture because it is SO her!  I am thrilled that I captured this face, she makes it a lot when she is excited.  Something that came with being four!

This was taken right before Paige voluntarily buckled herself into the stroller.  Hm - I guess that means you are done?

I always tend to know when Lauren is done...


After loading back into the car, they proceeded to eat their dinner all the way home.  At least it kept them from passing out, and the bedtime routine was preserved!  =)

Later tonight - ramblings about preparing to try for baby number three.  Yipes!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Since I am a single parent for the next several days, you all might have to tolerate some rambling. I should be cleaning something or catching up on my reading, but I feel like being a little self-indulgent at the moment! So, some things I have been thinking about lately...

1. How awesome my friends are! Seriously, they listen to me yammer on when I am sure they would rather be doing something else, you know like scrubbing their shower or something. ;o) They probably even kept reading after I said up front I was going to ramble. They are good like that. Exhibit A: today Colleen sent me home with movies and reading material to keep my mind off my alone-ness. One of the most thoughtful people I know, and I don't even know if she knows that about herself!

2. Speaking of friendship... my husband is my best friend. And, as much of a cliche as that is - I haven't always been okay with that. Truly, I have bouts of jealousy over my girlfriends who have "besties" - ones that they have been friends with constantly for the last 10+ years, who they talk to every day, share everything with, and all that best-friend stuff. But last weekend I was thinking about this, and I am finally feeling truly okay with my husband being my best friend - what a blessing that is! I value my girlfriends in the highest regard and I enjoy spending time with each of them... and I am glad that is finally enough for me!

3. Times are touch, bills are high... and I need to figure out a better way to manage money. I despise this. Especially in the area of food! I love to cook, and I love food. REAL food, nothing out of a box, but fresh whole foods prepared with love and time. This budgeting thing really wants to eat into my grocery shopping. This is very disheartening to me...

4. I always have big plans for all the things I am going to get accomplished while J is away. You should see my list... but nothing is checked off. In fact, I added a few items today and then played the day away. I wonder if there is a term for a person who makes lists and then doesn't use them, because that is me. SO me.

5. I am considering combining this blog with my business one to make things more interesting over there on the photography page. What do you all think about this?!? Every photog's blog that I am addicted to combines business and personal content - and I want to have that sort of trust and openness with my business. But I am on the fence. Shocking, I know. I love to hang out on the fence... sometimes for months on end.

6. Jaclyn - your surprise came back to me in the mail! I was shocked because I mailed it so long ago... apparently I have the wrong zip code for you or something. I am just wondering what the post office was doing with it for the last three weeks!!! Uh oh - I feel another mail service rant coming on. Deep breaths....

7. Does anyone want pictures of their little ones done soon? Because I have the itch... bad. And ideas up the wazoo - but no clients yet. So hit me up ~ I know you are out there! Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? (Apparently wazoo is in the dictionary. Who knew?)

Alright... that is all I have for tonight. Going to sit and watch "Love Actually" until I am ready to pass out!

Everyone have a great Friday!

Brian gets married!

Last Saturday we were privliged to be able to be at my cousin Brian's wedding in San Diego.  It was a beautiful location - and these two are so very in love, it was wonderful to watch!  It is funny, I remember at my own wedding Brian was unable to come because he was taking Tami to her senior prom and I can vividly remember saying, "He better marry this girl if he is missing this!"  Ha!  This was a hysterical statement because at the time, Brian was 16 or 17 years old!  And now they are married - so I suppose I can excuse the absence after all.  ;o) 

Lauren did a great job at the wedding, after we had a talk about being silent and respectful - she colored and remained seated and quiet.  Yay!  I just filled Paige's mouth with food the whole time to keep her quiet.  LOL!

At the reception, after the traditional first dances were over they called up the parents and all three couples danced to a song that the groom's parents danced to 30-some years ago!  After a minute or so the two in-law couples all started dancing together instead!  There is so much love in this family, they were just having the best time.  It was so sweet and special ~ it helps that the lead singer/guitarist of the band is a family friend and very thoughtful!

Grandma Linda was kind enough to entertain Lauren for the duration of the reception.  They had a great time running all over and checking out all the pretty views.  Lauren just loves her some Grandma time - every time we talk about San Diego, she talks about seeing Grandma!

Paige peering over the ledge at all the boats.  There was a man working on his boat straight out from where she was standing, and once she caught sight of him she pointed and giggled - thinking it was hysterical that someone was out there! 

Meanwhile, Mommy was trying not to have a heart attack over her potentially falling into the water just feet in front of her.

I had to include a shot of this because I thought it was so unique!  The groom's family owns Olhausen Billiards - a large producer of pool tables.  They had a special felt on this table that everyone could sign - I love this idea!!! 

Yet again, it is impossible for all four of us to look at the camera and be smiling!  ;o)

My little tuckered out pumpkin! 

The girls were up super late this night and honestly I was totally impressed that they didn't have massive meltdowns from lack of sleep and overload of sugar.  *Whew!*

Justin narrowly escaped having to dance since we left early to scurry the children into bed.  I still can't figure why he was more than happy to dance while we were dating, but now avoids it like the plague!  Ha!  He did make sure to ask me to dance every time there was a song playing he knew I would want to dance to!  :oP

Thanks for having us, Olhausen family!  It was a blast!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coronado Beach

Let me preface this post by saying that I was NOT happy with my beach pictures. I decided to take my Rebel instead of my 5D to avoid the stress of sand and water near such a pricey piece of equipment. But let me tell you, I will not be doing that again! Unless I have no specific pictures I want that day. There has been some major photoshopping to make these look OK - I will spare you the list of what was done!

We spent the day at Coronado Island on Saturday and it was gorgeous! Perfect weather for the beach, warm and sunny with a little breeze. The girls had a blast and Lauren has talked about it non-stop since then. Today we were playing Barbies and her doll was telling mine all about her trip to the beach. =) We might have a surfer girl on our hands... but probably just a shell-collector.

I have visited before, but I really want to stay at a beach house on Coronado now! It is such a sweet town, I want to walk all the streets and eat in their little hole-in-the-wall places! Plus, their water and sand is perfect!!! Far better than the other beaches in the area!

My good friend Carrie was able to make it out to the beach that day to visit with us for a while, and it was such a treat to connect with her - making this day all the more sunny!!!

Paige truly has no fear, I think she figures if someone else is doing it, then she should be able to do it as well. Dangerous ground, little one! ;o) She did great playing in the water and sand, and only fussed a few times over being too cold. There were no signs of sickness this day (thank goodness!) and she was just a happy little clam - even though napping consisted of 10 minutes in the car between the shoreline and stopping for lunch. Only on vacation!!!

You might remember last year when Lauren was really not so okay with Daddy deciding to bury her in the sand. She whined about it the whole time, stayed put long enough for me to take two pictures, and then scrambled out like the ground was going to gobble her up. This year was very different! She was all about it, laughing and telling Daddy he needed to put more snd on her, "I can still see my swimsuit!" Ha!

Paige was all about it too, but Daddy didn't push his luck by trying to bury her upper body. He has learned many things over the years of parenting!

All in all, a beautiful day of family and friends in one of my favorite locations! Life is soooooo good!

Tomorrow: pictures from the Olhausen wedding!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

San Diego, day 1

Okay, I took waaaaay too many pictures this past weekend!  So, I will have to divide them up a little - since I am still sorting through all 300 of them! 

Our first day there we drove straight to Seaport Village.  There are less pictures of Paige then Lauren because she got carsick just as we were getting into town.  She spent the rest of the day crabby and lethargic, and not too fun to photograph.  Poor baby! 

Lauren's first look at the ocean:
I know sweetheart, that is how I feel about it, too!   =)
Wow, every time I look at pictures of her I can not believe how big she is! 

The girls were infatuated with all the ducks.  Paige pointed and squealed saying, "Duck!  Quack, quack," the whole time we were there. 

This is the face Paige made for the rest of the day after throwing up.  I feel so bad for her and her sensitive stomach!

My nature girl ~ looking so grown up!

Justin and Lauren climbed every tree in the park!  We all just loved soaking up some time outside in fresh air.  It seems like ages since the girls have played outdoors.

Chasing the birds - I am pretty sure they could have done this all day.  The pigeons just ran away, very rarely flying or going very far.  I think they thought the girls would feed them eventually.

Putting Paige up in the tree finally got some smiles out of her!

I was almost worried that they might actually catch one - they were brave birds!

Finally we were able to coerce them away from the climbing trees and bird-chasing to go get some drinks! 

The girls love them some Daddy time!!!

I am not even sure what this "sculpture" actually is, I didn't get close enough - but I thought it looked pretty neat and so did Lauren! 

It was a really fun way to spend the afternoon.  After having some drinks we were off to check into the hotel and get Paige a much needed nap!

Beach pictures tomorrow!!!